Some days living your dreams is really hard. Some days they feel a bit more like nightmares. Some days you wonder why you ever wanted to pursue them in the first place. Some days you love where you live and what you do. Some days, these days are the same. Today was one of these days for me.
This month has been tough. I’m pretty worn out emotionally right now. I’ve been feeling pretty sick the past few days. Saturday night I got a fever. I spent most of Sunday in my bed, in too much pain to move. Eventually, I mustered up the strength to go downstairs and watch television. Monday was better. I only stayed in bed till noon. I got up, got ready for the day, ate lunch. I had planned to go grocery shopping but at that point I was too worn out from all the getting ready, so I took a nap. Today I was feeling well enough that I felt like I should go to class.
My language teacher and I planned to meet this week in her neighborhood so I could practice talking to other people. So I set out to class- a drive that should take 20-30 minutes of there isn’t traffic. But there was traffic. I was stuck in my car for two hours on the way there. It was hot, so hot my phone eventually shut down because of the heat. I thought I might throw up (you know because I’ve been sick and I thought it might be a good idea to eat breakfast). I was listening the “Ribs” by Lorde some of the lyrics are “This dream isn’t feeling sweet. We’re reeling through the midnight streets. And I’ve never felt more alone. Feels so scary getting old.” In that moment, I felt so incredibly miserable and alone. I wished I had someone, anyone, to sit there in traffic with me, to make a joke, to talk to, to complain to. I didn’t though and I started crying. I didn’t cry much. But still, today I sat in my swelteringly hot car listening to Lorde with tears running down my cheeks. I thought about turning around and just going home. Today was definitely one of those why-on-earth-did-I-move-to-Africa days. Today, pursuing my dreams seemed like a terrible decision.
I reminded myself that while being stuck in traffic in a car so hot you feel beads of sweat forming all over you is not fun, it also doesn’t last forever. I reminded myself that I was looking forward to using my language outside of the classroom. I reminded myself that after class I would get to go home. I reminded myself that even though I was feeling lonely that I do have friends.
But then I got to my destination. I parked outside the shop that my old teacher owns and caught her up on some of the details of my life. I went to the home of my current teacher. She served tea and we spoke in the language I’m learning with one of her cousins. Then I went shopping with her to get some groceries. We walked a long way to the shops where the salespeople would speak the language I’m learning. We laughed and chattered in a language that I still have to think a lot about but that is starting to come more and more easily. We made our usual inside jokes and in these moments I was so very happy that I moved to Kenya. In these moments I felt brave, not weak and alone. I loved the surprised looks of the people we passed when they realized that I was speaking an African language and not English. I even loved laughing about the woman who thought that I was going to pay 100 shillings for an onion when they cost much less. I laughed because I knew better than to pay that much and knowing made me feel like I belong more than people think I do at first glance. My teacher laughed at how many people shouted things like “muzungu” (white person) at me. She said all of those men were being stupid and we laughed some more.
We walked back to her place so I could rest a bit before starting the drive home. We talked about the traffic and how terrible it was. We were speaking a mix of English and the new language- we often do this when we are making jokes. Then I said “no one jellies jams” which if you translate some of that into the language I’m learning means “no one likes traffic.” We started laughing about what it would sound like if someone who just knew English heard us talking. We gained a new joke today. I got to see some more of what daily life looks like for my friends. Today, living my dreams was astoundingly difficult, and yet, so good. I’m glad I didn’t turn around and go home before I got to the good part.